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Syrian prison shelled during Aleppo battle

BEIRUT -- Shells smashed into a central prison in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo, killing prisoners, a rights group said yesterday, part of a long battle for control of the ancient city.

The explosions killed six prisoners, said the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which communicates with a network of activists on the ground. The explosives hit Friday night, the Observatory said. It was not clear who fired them.

The Observatory reported about 70 soldiers and fighters were killed yesterday, as well as 40 civilians, in fighting across Syria. The UN estimates some 93,000 people have been killed in the civil war.

With government forces stepping up offensives, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood called on the United States and Europe to send arms. "Providing the Free Syrian Army and the revolutionary rebels with appropriate arms is more urgent now than at any time in the past," the movement wrote on social media sites. "We feel cheated and disappointed because the U.S. and Europe have backed out from arming the FSA," it said.

Last month the United States decided in principle to provide some weapons to rebel forces, though Western countries are concerned they might land in the hands of extremist Sunni Muslims fighting with the rebels.

The forces include an al-Qaida-linked group that has been fighting for weeks to seize control of the prison in Aleppo, besieging it. The Observatory estimated some 120 prisoners have died in the jail since April from fighting, illness and executions. -- AP

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